Obama: U.S. Competitors Have 'More Effective' Health Care Systems

By Susan Jones | September 20, 2013 | 6:57 AM EDT

President Barack Obama, center, gets a reaction from his comments as he speaks to members of his Export Council during their meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in Washington. Seated with Obama are from left are, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama said on Thursday that until the Affordable Care Act passed, other nations had more "effective" health care systems than the United States did.

He also said Obamacare is having a positive impact on American businesses' bottom lines, which will help boost American exports.

In the three years since Obamacare passed, health care costs have grown at the slowest pace on record, the president told a meeting of his Export Council.

"And I think this is critically important to recognize, because one of the huge competitive disadvantages that our businesses have had is that we -- American businesses oftentimes are shouldering health care costs that their competitors are not, because they've had a more efficient, more effective system."

Obama did not say what competitor nations he was talking about, but according to the Census Bureau, America's top-ten trading partners include Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and India.

Canada has a government-funded and government-run health care system that promises universal coverage for medically necessary health care services, regardless of the ability to pay. But the system has been plagued by long wait times for treatment, and many Canadians come to the United States for medical services.

As for Mexico and China, even in places where health care is available, the U.S. State Department warns that the standards of medical care are not equivalent to those in the United States.

The United Kingdom's government-controlled National Health Service has quality and availability challenges, although the system was praised for its wealth-redistribution characteristics by Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama's former, never-confirmed head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Obama told his Export Council on Thursday, "One of the reasons our businesses are more competitive is because health care costs have actually stabilized relative to what we had been seeing in previous years."

He said when the Affordable Care Act passed, people disputed that it would reduce health care costs.

"Well, it turns out, actually, a lot of what we've done is starting to bear real fruit. And it has an impact on the bottom lines of American businesses as well as the American people. So if that -- if the current trends hold -- and all estimates are that in fact they will; this is not just a byproduct of -- or hangover from the recession; we're going to see a continuing slowing of increase in health care costs. That's going to boost our exports."

Obama said new trade deals he's signed also are boosting exports, as are the "really great products and services" made in America.

"And so we're really focused on how do we keep that momentum going," he said.

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